Transnational Municipal Networks in Climate Politics: From Global Governance to Global Politics

Globalizations (Impact Factor: 0.47). 09/2008; 5(3):341-356. DOI: 10.1080/14747730802252479


In a multilevel and multicentric governance arena, pathways and mechanisms of influence are several and non-state capacities for technical leadership and norm entrepreneurship prove more significant than is the case within a strictly multilateral framework. Among actors with such capacities are municipalities, which multiply their influence through horizontal and vertical relationships. Transnational municipal networks present opportunities for both intermunicipal dialogue and the pooling of global influence, highlighting the presence and influence of the city in the world. This paper examines the collective response of some cities to climate change, exploring the place of cities in global environmental politics through analysis of two transnational municipal networks: the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives' Cities for Climate Protection and the International Solar Cities Initiative. The article addresses the following questions: How might municipal efforts toward a climate-stable future be significant to the larger issue of ecological justice in global environmental politics? Might cities be able to redefine the rules of the game and take a stand on ‘inefficient’ norms? After briefly accounting for the relationship between cities and the world, the article characterizes technical leadership as a legitimizing force of and in global environmental governance and norm entrepreneurship as a potential source of contestation and subversion in global environmental politics. The paper describes what cities are globalizing, in terms of pollution, environmental degradation, and risk, and in terms of management and politics. Finally, the article explores the possibility that emerging horizontal and vertical relationships, intermunicipal relationships, and relationships between cities or networks of cities and other scales of governance potentiate legitimizing roles for cities in climate governance and subversive roles in climate politics.

    • "During the past two decades, scholarship on urban climate governance has become a robust field of research (BulkeleyToly 2008). While much of this literature critically examines " issues of institutional capacity and political economy " that both facilitate and limit municipally based action on climate change (Bulkeley et al. 2013, 2), it says far less about the explicit role of power as a driver and product of urban climate politics. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper utilizes insights from urban political ecology (UPE) to highlight the importance of carbon in urban climate politics. Through an emphasis on the socio-material politics of urban climate governance, this analysis provides an explicit account of the performance of power within and over the urban landscape. Two specific efforts are reviewed here, including local greenhouse gas inventorying practices and urban educational and outreach efforts to create carbon conscious citizens. By considering these social and political processes in relation to ecological aspects of urban carbon cycling, it becomes evident that urban interventions into climate change do little to disrupt or restructure the ways in which carbon flows into or out of cities and instead operate at the level of carbon representation (via measurement) and subjection (via educational outreach). A UPE framework also helps highlight the ways in which urban carbon governance erases importance aspects of social and spatial difference among carbon emitters and how efforts to change individual behavior direct attention away from carbon intensive urban development. The review concludes with some thoughts on why social scientists should pay closer attention to the myriad ways that carbon is modeled, measured, and monitored as an ecological, technical, and political project in the world's cities.
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    • "The second type of horizontal climate governance, the establishment of transnational city networks, aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and the transfer of best practices. Apart from lobbying, which was discussed in the previous section, facilitating best-practice transfer and organizing the exchange of experiences among members form important parts of the mission of transnational city networks such as the Climate Alliance (Keiner and Kim 2008; Toly 2008; Kern and Bulkeley 2009). Transnational city networks have fostered horizontal urban climate governance because local actors use such networks for transnational learning. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2013
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    • "Moreover, there are very few studies that take national programmes into account and analyze national multi-level systems and the conversion of national policy goals into local politics (Gupta 2007). Finally, there is a lack of research that compares the various national and transnational city networks and analyses their relationships and impact on local action (Toly 2008; Kern/Bulkeley 2009). "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009
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